Josh Poponick owns Blackout Tinting in Latrobe, Pa., Pittsburgh and Miami. A typical day includes automotive window tinting, paint protection film (PPF) and ceramic coating projects. On April 15, though, Poponick and his crew ceramic coated something entirely unique to the day-to-day routine.

Flying High

A team of five at Blackout Tinting, based in Latrobe, Pa., Pittsburgh and Miami, finished applying a ceramic coating to a Gulfstream G550 on April 15. (Photo: John Getty)

“We want to make a push into aviation,” says Poponick, whose team ceramic coated a private jet. “I have a background in aviation, and we’re right next to a corporate airport at my Latrobe store. It makes sense for us, location-wise. I have a detailer that would be perfect for the role of taking it over.”

It’s a segment on the climb, according to Business Traveler USA:

“The use of private jets around the world surged to record levels in 2022, despite hundreds of commercial airline routes returning to service after the pandemic. According to the business aviation data firm WingX, the number of flights on business aircraft across the globe rose by 10% last year compared to 2021—14% higher than pre-pandemic levels in 2019. In addition, the report lists more than 5.5 million business aircraft flights in 2022—more than 50% higher than in 2020.”

A team of five spent three full days—working 12-13 hours each day—installing XPEL’s Fusion Plus Aircraft ceramic coating to a Gulfstream G550, a business jet aircraft produced by General Dynamics’ Gulfstream Aerospace unit in Savannah, Ga.

“It’s becoming a bigger thing,” Poponick says of aviation-based coating projects. “Many coating companies are coming out with aviation-specific coatings that are tested through the rigorous elements that a plane goes through—temperature differences and wind speeds. You can’t just get a wash mitt and a hose and rinse the thing off.”

Pursuing Dreams

Interacting with pilots in hangers is commonplace for Poponick, who’s in the process of getting his pilot’s license.

Josh Poponick, the owner of Blackout Tinting in Latrobe, Pa., Pittsburgh and Miami, applies a ceramic coating to the wing of a Gulfstream G550. (Photo: John Getty)

“Ever since I was in high school, I always said I wanted to learn how to fly planes,” Poponick says of his desire to become a pilot. “Jokingly, I said it was the only thing that I couldn’t drive. I love to drive, and I love cars and engines. Eventually, a flight school opened up at this corporate airport. A year ago, I said, ‘I’m going to do it.’”

Poponick plans to open a fourth Blackout Tinting location in St. Louis this June. But for now, this latest project is the hottest topic in the shop.

“One of the things people ask us all the time is, ‘What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever worked on?’ I’m going to have a real hard time beating this,” he says.

Poponick Talks Protection at WFCT 2023

The 2023 International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ (WFCT) is under 150 days away, and the show’s full seminar slate is ready.

On Friday, September 22, from 9 to 10 a.m., Poponick will lead a seminar centered on curtailing the customer’s desire for perfection:

Fighting PPF Perfectionism with Proper Expectations

Curtailing the customer’s desire for perfection and setting realistic expectations before an installation is crucial with paint protection film. In fact, Poponick says that goal falls second only to customer service and a quality installation. You’ll learn how to set the tone with customers in ways that increase sales, profit and loyalty.

Editor’s Note: Have you applied ceramic coatings in the aviation space? Please reach out to editor Chris Collier for potential coverage.

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